Italian football chief calls women players ‘a handful of lesbians’
The head of the Italian national amateur league has been criticised for “homophobic and sexist comments”.
During a meeting to discuss funding for women’s teams, Felice Belloli reportedly said: “That’s enough, we can’t always talk about giving money to this handful of lesbians.”
The words were recorded in the minutes of the meeting, but Mr Belloli denies saying them. He told Ansa: “It needs to be proven that those words are mine.
“The minutes can be written by anyone. It’s necessary to show that I said those things and I deny this.”
Luisa Rizzitelli, president of the national association of women’s athletes told Tutto Sport: “We don’t consider the word ‘lesbian’ to be offensive, but in this context it is unacceptable and homophobic.
“Obviously, the Italian women’s team winning bronze in the World Cup last year is not enough for him to respect athletes in this discipline, their coaches and managers.”
Patrizia Panico, Verona and Italy player, also said she wanted women’s football to be treated with more respect. She said: “His words are sexist, male chauvinist, and ignorant.
“There is more talk of us footballers when you say ‘lesbian’ than when we play a championship.
“All we would like is to be judged by what we do on the field, not by sexual orientation.”
England and Arsenal player Casey Stonem has talked about fearing her sexuality would hinder her football career.